Leave or stay

It was six o’clock in the morning. We arrived at Jin Fu’s roadside house by appointment and were more than willing to witness the “amazing” waterfall in the mountain.

Jin Fu is the choir director of Bai Hua Ling church, which is one of the biggest churches in Lujiang area. He is a typical Lisu people, with a beautiful wife and a lovely son. In the daytime, he works as construction worker for living and his wife sell milky tea and bean jelly at home. In the evening, he goes to the church and leads the religious service. “It is all voluntary,” he said, “people believe me and I am happy to do that.”

What is not typical about Jin Fu is that, unlike most of traditional Lisu people who spend most of their time within Lujiang area, he has been to lots of places when he was very young. “For every city I visited, I mostly only went to two places, the railway station and the church” he laughed. However, he still knows a lot more about outside world. “You can earn much more outside,” he said, “but you suffer more at the same time.” However, Jin’s wife, a hospitable housewife, seems to hold different view. “I am dreaming to go outside, anywhere, anytime” she was brimming with anticipation, ”Jin has been to everywhere but I have not, so I am always expecting to see more. ” she explained. As for Jin Fu’s reason for coming back, he said that is because he regards family and belief the most important. “Cities are rather complicated, too much temptation, and it is corrosive for my belief, “he explained,” and life is always better with family, isn’t it?” he added.

When mentioning the future of his son, Jin Fu’s answer is determined. “It is his own call to leave or stay,” he said,”but he must go to university like you do”. It is not surprise for Jin to value highly of education, though he only has completed primary school, he has witness many tragedies result from lack of education. We can never know the hardship he encountered during his unpleasant “journey” outside, but we appreciate his determination to chance, to fight and to hope.

From my previous readings, I knew they were poor, but bright and cheerful in nature. Their firm religious practice has kept them from being greedy in the face of poverty and therefore, they’ve remained an elegant and peaceful society. However, with the effects of modern society, an increasing number of the

Lisu young men have left the mountain villages in seek of better job opportunities in the advanced cities surrounding them. Most men are unable to speak fluent Mandarin because of Lisu’s limited educational resources, which limit their work to laborious factory tasks. Only the elderly and women remain working on the farms at home, hoping that their dear son or husband would return home someday. That, above all, is the saddest part of their story. Outside observers should never subjectively state whether it is right for their society members to step outside their village, yet it is sad to see the effects. The traditional songs sung by the Lisu, their entertaining improvisations played and prayers made to their beloved ones are all fascinating characteristics of the Lisu culture. They were incredibly friendly and hospitable to unexpected guests like us and I wholeheartedly wish a better future for my dear Lisu friends.

Leave of stay? It is a dilemma faced by Lisu people today. As a people with a long history of immigration, I believe they can make the final right choice from their iron nature. But for now they take a step outside.

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